Match ends, Derby County 2, Aston Villa 0.
In-form Derby County boosted their promotion hopes with a win over play-off rivals Aston Villa.
The Rams took the lead when Glenn Whelan's blind backpass was picked up by Matej Vydra and he teed up former Villa man Andreas Weimann.
Robert Snodgrass nearly levelled at the start of the second half but Richard Keogh cleared his effort off the line.
Substitute Johnny Russell secured the victory in the last minute after a good ball from Keogh.
Steve Bruce's side started the match without a recognised striker after Keinan Davis was ruled out with illness and they struggled to create throughout.
The Rams, who would have scored inside the opening minute but for a superb last-ditch tackle from Neil Taylor on David Nugent, could have won by more had it not been for some fine saves from Sam Johnstone to deny Keogh and Bradley Johnson.
Gary Rowett's men, who remain fourth, have now won five of their past six games and are six points off second-placed Cardiff City.
Villa remain fifth after defeat at Pride Park but are now winless in three games and just one point clear of seventh-placed Leeds.
Derby County boss Gary Rowett:
"It's probably the best start we've had all season. That was something we wanted to do - to physically try and pin them back early - and we had some good moments. With a little bit more composure at times we could have had more.
"In the second half we allowed Villa just a little bit too much control at times but for as much of the play they had, I don't think Scott Carson has had a meaningful save to make.
"It's another game where we can say we know we can play better but we've kept a clean sheet, defended brilliantly and it's another excellent result."
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce:
"From the very first minute, we put them through and didn't really recover. We made far too many mistakes and when we really analyse it we'll look and think, for all that we huffed and puffed, we've gifted them the game.
"In a big game of this magnitude, the disappointing thing for me was the number of mistakes we made. We made so many it was scary and we made too many to win a football match.
"Second half, I was pleased with how we played. We had enough possession but not enough shots on target: we've had 12 or 13 attempts but only two on target."
- 19WeimannSubstituted forRussellat 57'minutes
- 23VydraSubstituted forThorneat 86'minutes
- 28NugentSubstituted forMartinat 72'minutes
- 27El Mohamady
- 6WhelanSubstituted forHoganat 65'minutes
- 18OnomahSubstituted forAgbonlahorat 83'minutes
- 2de Laet
- Lee Probert
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Derby County 2, Aston Villa 0.
Attempt missed. Robert Snodgrass (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Scott Hogan.
Attempt saved. Johnny Russell (Derby County) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Foul by Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa).
Richard Keogh (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Derby County 2, Aston Villa 0. Johnny Russell (Derby County) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Richard Keogh with a through ball.
Attempt blocked. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Grealish.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Tom Huddlestone.
Substitution, Derby County. George Thorne replaces Matej Vydra.
Albert Adomah (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Chris Baird (Derby County).
Substitution, Aston Villa. Gabriel Agbonlahor replaces Josh Onomah.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Richard Keogh.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Curtis Davies.
Attempt missed. Scott Hogan (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ahmed El Mohamady with a cross.
Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Chris Martin (Derby County).
Neil Taylor (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Johnny Russell (Derby County).